When it comes to Brexit negotiations, Irish farmers are more concerned about trade than the border issue, the head of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) told the Irish Times on Monday.
The President of ICMSA Pat McCormack said it was important for the food and drinks companies to have continued access to the UK market and vice versa. He called on the Irish government to shift priorities from the political imperative of a no-border deal to an economically viable agreement.
In Ireland the North exports more agricultural goods to the South; however, the UK as a whole is an indispensable market for Ireland.
Irish exports to the UK amount to €65bn a year, sustaining 400,000 jobs on both sides of the island. 50% of Irish beef exports and over a 100,000 tonnes of cheese make their way from Ireland to the UK every year. The North exports €2bn worth of agricultural goods – or 30% of total exports – to the Republic, importing one billion.
The ICMSA believes that trade figures should be given “more concentration” rather than “getting completely hung up on the question of how exactly the post-Brexit Border with the North will look,” McCormack said. According to Irish farmers, movement of goods is more significant from East-to-West – i.e. from the Republic to the UK – than North-South.